KITE: 1 Maggots and Monsters
There were children, each from a different sub-species of Anthro. The eldest of them was barely a teen. Each of them naked as the day that they were born. They were covering themselves as best as they felt they could or should. Only a few of them were in tears from the stinging tattoos that were thickly numbered from 406 to 424 upon each of their right shoulders. The entirety of the group was shaking or red from humiliation. Some in the room were blinded more than others, but it didn’t matter to the burly guards lining the thick concrete walls. Least of all to the nasty hyena hybrid standing center stage. This wicked Anthro was known only as The Warden of the place known only as the Facility.
“Alright Maggots,” The Warden barked at his young prisoners, “I don’t think that you’ve noticed this, but I am not your Mama I am not your Daddy! And I am Especially NOT your friend! I am an extremely antisocial hyena that does Not like to be disturbed for any reason.”
The Warden bounced upon his heels, then began his standard pace before the inmates, glaring at each one he passed by. Despite they were not in the standard “attention pose”, The Warden made certain that they stood straight with his growls alone. He also made certain that they understood their situation. If not, then they will have to learn…
“As such, if in the unlikely event that you should ever find yourself in my presence, I expect each of you to not disturb me. You will find that I am particularly unpleasant to be around when I find that my prisoners are disturbing me,” The Warden turned on a dime for his second pass, “and there are many, many ways to disturb me. For starters…”
The Warden sucker punched Prisoner 413’s stomach, “Don’t hide Anything from me! Even your own privates!” Prisoner 413, a young male fox, instantly spat up blood, before hitting the ground. The remaining prisoner’s cried out in fear.
“SILENCE,” the hyena snapped. The prisoners obeyed. The Warden continuing as if nothing interrupted his speech, “…is another thing that I value. Even if I should…*ahem*… attempt to correct you, don’t so much as whimper. Whimpering only forces me to correct you from that as well.”
Prisoner 411, a mere pup of a german shepherd, only moved her eyes to see if the fox was at least still alive. She couldn’t stand the sight of it. The fox was drowning to keep from throwing up.
“I should also expect you to stand as my fellow guards do,” The Warden barely caught 411’s eyes, sealing her fate to be his next victim. The Warden's grin gave him away to her long before she was flung from the line and into the beast’s arms, “Very much like this pup is doing…”
The Warden caressed down her body as he explained. Despite how much 411 wanted to cry, she obediently did not make a sound.
“See how she keeps her head forward, arms to her sides, legs straight and tail out. But most importantly, her mouth shut!”
It took everything that she had to not cry. No matter where he touched her, she wouldn’t… no, she couldn’t make a sound.
“That’s a good bitch,” The Warden stood tall again, dissatisfied that he wouldn’t be able to correct her… for now. The others seemed to be taking her example.
“She stands and listens as should the rest of you. And since I am not a mind reader, I will expect you all to know Nothing! Not even how to ask stupid questions. As such, if should I say ′jump’, then not only do you jump, but you do Not ask how high. You just Jump.”
There was a dead silence, save for the curling of the various guards’ lips.
“I said, you just Jump,” The Warden repeated while unwittingly freezing the children in place with that heartless stare of his.
Only 411 was spared from seeing The Warden’s frigid glance. As such, only her actions was the least bit correct. She jumped into the air as high as her ankles alone could lift her. Half of the others jumped next. The remaining half followed suit. The Warden’s frozen frown turned into a sinister smile of satisfaction.
“Very good all of you,” The Warden waltzed past 411. She was the only one who saw where that monster was prowling to. No one else would realize his intent before it was far too late, “Except for you!”
The Warden kicked Prisoner 413 into the wall behind the inmates. The Warden slowly bent down, gripping the fox’s head just above his Adam’s apple. Limp and unresponsive, his unfocused eyes still dilated. This prisoner was already broken, but still alive. Disgusted with the drool that dripped from the prisoner’s muzzle, The Warden threw the kit to the side.
“Now,” The Warden took a handkerchief from his breast pocket to dry the spittle from his hands, “as I mentioned before, it will be very rare for me to see any of you in person. As such, I will not remember your last names and will be calling you each all by your new first name of which is ‘prisoner’. If in the unlikely event that I should need to know your last name I will read it off of your persons. I will even tolerate coming to see you on special occasions such as your birthdays, Christmas and even your funeral just to celebrate with you. You should feel honored.”
The Warden returned into his original pose, noticing that he had forgotten about his other less than tarnished plaything, “Get back in line, prisoner!”
411 wasted no time zipping back to where she stood stiffly before. Even so, she couldn’t stop shaking.
“I believe that I said, Get back in line… prisoner,” the warden for the first time that day gave a warning. 411 eyes widened, zipping to make sure that her feet were firmly lined up with the others. The german shepherd was sure that she was standing like he wanted her to. The Warden slowly drew out his gun and pulled the hammer to a click, “I will count to three and I will shoot if you don’t get back in line.”
No, this couldn’t be happening…
“One…,” the Warden looked up.
…I’m a good girl…
“Two…,” the hyena took aim.
…you said so yourself… 411 sealed her eyes shut.
“Three…,” the hyena grinned as he fired.
The Warden’s target was hit in the shoulder leaving a new scar deep within. The fox was wide awake now, crying up a storm. 411 had no time to feel anything, good or bad until The Warden spoke up once more.
“What have I told you about screaming,” the Warden took another shot, missing this time. Whether it was on purpose or not quickly became null and void. The fox bit at his own tongue, muffling his cries. Not that one pain could mask out the other.
“That’s better,” the hyena smiled again as if nothing had happened, “Now get in line.”
Young 413 nodded as he stumbled back into the empty space. The Warden clicked and signaled with the gun’s barrel at the fox’s left shoulder. 413 quickly listened and dropped his right arm to match his limp one. The hyena nodded in approval.
This was going smoother than usual. There wasn’t nearly enough screaming to give him a headache today. Despite how he loved to correct, he hated the headaches that the action brought him. This was a new record for him, only four corrections today. Given only one prisoner received any, but that never mattered before.
“It may take some getting used to, but I sincerely hope that I have made myself clear. If I have, then you will not bother me for the remainder of your pathetic lives. If I have not, then I will just have to attempt to remind you. Might your stay with us be as painless for me as possible,” The Warden smiled before yelling, “DISMISSED!”
The line of prisoners turned to face the door that the guards herded them to. None could move fast enough to the hallways leading deeper in. The new prisoners were marched straight to their cells.
As custom for the facility, the cells for the newest residents were placed at the far end of the underground prison, the furthest away from the entrance. This gave the eighty-something inmates a chance to size up their reluctant neighbors. The senior inmates barely glanced at the parade of fresh meat. Some didn’t even bother to look. Not that it was a surprise. With their spirits broken, these lost souls could no longer think for themselves, do anything that would help them endure any longer.
Well… save for one who was sleeping.
The each cell was fairly small. Not a single one had a window, only a pair of small holes designed to recycle the air. A single lightbulb hung from the ceiling like a spider on a thread. It’s dull yellow glow was barely strong enough to coat the cages. There were only two beds if you could call them that. They were more like thin cots stuffed with straw. Hell, that would have been more comfortable. One bed existed on each side of the cell, which made only about two paces of walkable floor between. (That’s three paces for someone roughly 411′s size.) You don’t even want to know what the ‘toilet’ was.
When the line reached their respective cells (or rather the first empty cells they came upon) the young prisoners were stopped and smacked almost randomly into the cells two by two. The guards ended up with one girl out. The pair of guards grinned at the pup. Prisoner 411 was the only one left. It was as if the two of them had purposely saved her last.
“You’re lucky little girl,” the badger guard told her, “we needed a female.”
Prisoner 411 didn’t like the look on this guard’s face. She had seen that look before.
“Seems one of our older inmates needs a new partner to pair with,” the badger teased, “unless you want her for yourself, Bud-dee?”
“Stop with the pedobear jokes,” the bear snarled at the other guard, “or else I’ll make The Warden look tame in comparison.”
“Oh, I see. You go the other way do you,” the badger guard teased.
The bear responded by flipping the bird and moving 411 away from the badger, “grow up, you douché.”
“And let you loose interest in me?”
“I swear to God,” the bear gripped the girl’s shoulder a little too hard.
“Tck, nuh-uh-uh,” the badger wave a finger in the air, “God doesn’t exist here.”
“Then why don’t you follow His example and fuck off,” the bear snorted as he practically dragged 411 back towards the center of the prison, “I can handle one little girl on my own.”
The badger was about to say something again when the bear flipped another bird yelling, “you know what I meant.”
The two of them continued back down the prison. This time, none of the prisoners bothered to acknowledge her existence. The bear stopped them at one particular cell with a single prisoner inside. This prisoner was asleep on the left bed covered entirely except for his black ears poking through the top and black feet poking out of the bottom. He didn’t even stir as the cage door opened. The bear pushed the girl in and pointed to the other bed.
“You can wear these clothes,” the bear explained, pointing to the articles lying upon the mattress, “try not to get them dirty and Prisoner 224 should explain the rest to you.”
“then…,” 411 mumbled and stopped, fearing her mistake. Prisoner 224’s ears twitched at the sound of a little girl’s voice.
“Yes, you can speak,” the bear nodded, “but not to us and not when The Warden can hear you.”
“Yes-s s-sir,” 411 nodded at this, not moving anymore until the iron door was sealed and the bear was long gone.
A full minute passed until 411 didn’t care anymore about anything else. She fell to the ground, sobbing to herself. 224 tried to ignore her at first, but eventually gave in to his irritation.
He jolted into a sitting position, scaring the pup. He shushed for her to be quiet and paused… She looked up at him. Being a sentient inmate, he wasn’t naked like any of the new inmates. 411 didn’t know if that was a good thing or not.
He wore an old stained wife-beater with a faded 224 over the heart and a pair of thin green pants. The kind of pants that you’d normally find in a hospital. He was a brown furred creature with black markings, but his graying hairs were showing through. His hands and feet were also black along with his unkempt nails. His striped thin tail swished behind him as he stood, towering over 411. His face markings were indistinguishable from a mask. A raccoon anthro. One of the thinnest that you would ever see. Even through his wife beater, 411 could see his ribcage.
“You’re a pup. Not just a small anthro, but an actual pup,” 224 almost laughed to himself scratching his head, “great… just great. It’s hard enough teaching an adult how things work around here.”
“I’m sorry… I’ll try to learn fast…”
“Don’t be sorry,” 224 approached her, trying not to stare at her directly, “it’s not your fault that you’re here.”
411 stood in attention. Whatever would come next, she would not give in to her emotions again.
“Relax… I know how that hyena is,” 224 covered her with his bed sheet, “but I’m not him. Go ahead and get dressed. I won’t look. Promise.”
224 turned away, covering his eyes. The child only took a few slow minutes to examine the clothes that lay waiting for her on the cot. They appeared to be the same as 224′s, given the shirt was too big for her. Her number was boldly printed on the front and back of the pants, signaling that they were hers. The pants were easy enough to put on. That guard’s grip had bruised her shoulder muscles, so the shirt was slightly more difficult. She squeaked as it slipped over her head. Even 224 couldn’t resist peaking at that moment.
“Here, let me get that for you,” 224 reached out for the back of 411’s shirt. He tied it in a knot so that it wouldn’t slip down to her waist as easily.
“Thank you…,” 411 mumbled to herself.
“It’s my pleasure,” 224 huffed as he took back his old sheets and sat back upon his cot.
“Did I do something,” 411 asked quietly.
“What was that?”
“Are you mad,” 411 mumbled taking a step back.
“Speak up, not down,” 224 laughed lightly to himself.
“I’m sorry,” she finally spoke loud enough to be understood.
“Well, that’s a little better,” 224 thought for a moment. Silently, he pointed at 411 and then swirled his pointer fingers around each other in a backward motion.
“What,” 411 asked seeing the motions made by his hands.
“I said that was a little better,” 224 twirled his fingers again, pointing to her and repeated the twirling motion. 411’s eyes widened, she recognized the motion. He was signing.
“I’m sorry,” 411 moved her fist to the center of her chest and rubbed it clockwise.
“I see that,” 224 smiled as his hands continued the silent conversation, ‘how much did you learn?’
411 moved her finger to the side of her mouth. It was the wrong sign, but 224 understood that she meant to say, ‘I’ve only recently learned.’
224 performed the correct sign looking like he was disappointed, “so how old are you?”
“I don’t know…,” 411 repeated his corrected sign and repeated the sign for ‘sorry’.
“What do you mean that you don’t know,” 224 didn’t stop signing with his hands.
“Dad never taught me…,” 411 rubbed her left wrist down to her fingers, signaling ‘slow’.
“You learned how to speak,” 411 twirled his fingers again instead of signaling for ‘speak’, “but you don’t know how old you are?”
“I can count…,” 411 lowered her voice again, as she tried to sign what she could, “I was never told my age.”
“What about the year you were born?”
“278, March 4th,” she stated with just a hint of pride.
“A little bolder, are you?”
“Sorry…,” 411 posed looking as if she was guilty stealing cookies.
224 sighed to himself, “one step forward and two steps back.”
“So how old am I?”
“I don’t know, sorry. There’s no sense of time here and they don’t tell us the date until the holidays,” 224 rubbed the back of his head, “I’ve lost track.”
“I remember it was 293, but I’m not sure how long dad was being pur-si-cuted.”
“Persecuted,” 224 corrected while he leaned back remembering how he wound up here, “Same with my folks. I’ve been here since I was 13.”
“Is everyone here…like that?”
“Not all of us,” 224 sat back up suddenly, “There are… were some very bad souls here too. I suggest that you stay with me until I can point them out for you.”
411 nodded at this.
“Now it takes about 6 to 12 months for a court date and a trial, so that would make you about…,” 224 calculated in his head as his fingers moved on their own, “seven on your next birthday and me about…eighteen, damn…”
224 rubbed his paws across his face and ended with covering his ears, “they’ve had me here for five years already.”
“Here,” 224 finished 411’s question, “no clue. All I know is we’re still in the American region. A little further north from where I used to live and an entire time zone over.”
“Wh-,” 411 stopped, not wanting to ask the next question.
“Let me guess, ‘why are we here?’, or ‘where are your parents?’”
“The first one…,” she mumbled.
“They plan on turning us into ferals, plain and simple,” the raccoon turned on his cot, resting on his knee.
He looked out of their own cell and into the rows of other cells. The specific cell his eyes rested on was the one to the left of the one right across from their own. A pair of inmates in that particular one had already given up hope. The donkey only stared out of the cell. His female bobcat cellmate was banging her head on the stone wall behind him. The two of them had lost it only a month before this set of inmates arrived. He never got the chance to get to know them. 224 cringed at the sight after a while.
“So many lost souls,” he mumbled to himself.
“Nothing,” 224 turned his attention back to his new cellmate, “do you have any more questions or do you want to wait ’til later?”
“Why us!” 411 blurted out the question only a millisecond after the raccoon had finished his own. He almost mistook it for a bark of anger. 224 calmed himself when he saw tears in her eyes, “I’ve been a good girl. Dad said that everything was going to be alright if we just did what we were told. I was a good girl. I still am…”
224 didn’t quite catch everything that the canine had testified, but he got the drift. He quickly stormed over, embracing her in a hug. Even though he knew better, he rubbed her back to let her know that everything was going to be fine. He had lost his last cellmate a month or so before. He knew how much even the slightest touch from someone else could give relief.
“Why did dad lie,” 411 gripped the stranger’s shirt and hid her face as she sobbed lightly, “I was good… but it didn’t get better…”
“Shush now. You are a good girl. I’m certain of it,” 224 pet her head.
“Then why am I here?”
That was the one question that 224 could never answer. He didn’t know what her father’s case was or if he was truly innocent or not. All he knew was that the Anthro vs Darwin case (and the Osborn Act of 236 A.C. that followed) were the central cause of the inmates’ grievances.
’If an anthro is guilty of any major crimes, then their immediate family (spouse and claimed children) will lose all their civil rights as ‘equal beings’.’
That is what has happened to 224, to 411 and each of the branded inmates.